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J. P. Fabricius's Tamil and English dictionary

Preface to the First Edition
Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the Third Edition
Dr. Graul’s Classification of Tamil Verbs According to their Conjugation
Preface to the Fourth Edition

[page ii]

Image of Johann Philip Fabricius

[page iii]


THE First Tamil and English Lexicon was published in 1779 and reprinted in 1809 under the title, “A MALABAR and ENGLISH DICTIONARY” by the old German Lutheran Missionaries Johann Philip Fabricius and Christian Breithaupt. This Dictionary, which contained about 9000 Tamil words with a large collection of idiomatic phrases, formed the basis of subsequent works by Drs. Rottler and Winslow, who, while adopting almost all those phrases, refer to this Lexicon as "The Old Dictionary."

The present volume is an enlarged and much improved edition of the work on which it is based. While care has been taken to add to it all those words and phrases in the said larger Dictionaries which are thought to be of practical utility to students, several new terms, meanings and phrases have also found a place in this edition, which contains a collection of 11,590 Tamil primitives and 21,305 derivatives and phrases.

Among the chief traits of the present publication the following may be mentioned:

(a) The imperative being the root of Tamil verbs, they are presented in that form.

(b) The different classes of conjugation are indicated by figures I to VII which refer to the annexed classification of Tamil verbs by the learned oriental scholar and philologist Dr. Graul, whose table of the flexional system is not only scientific and practical, but also comprehensive, as only very few irregular verbs are not included therein. Any such variety or irregularity of form is fully explained. This classification will, it is believed, prove very convenient especially to foreigners who study the Tamil language.

(c) The obsolete and rare words and meanings are generally omitted in order to avoid unnecessary increase in the bulk of the volume.

* * * * * *

The revision of the present edition was commenced by the late Rev. E. Schaeffer, Principal of the Evangelical Lutheran Central High School, Tranquebar, with the help of Mr. A. Pakyam Pillay, Headmaster of the same Institution. Upon the death of that Missionary while the 25th sheet was passing through the Press, the editorship was committed to the undersigned. This change of hands in the editorship will account for some small differences between the first and last portions in the arrangement, addition of synonyms etc.

It is hoped that the volume here offered to the public will supply the long-felt want of a good and handy Tamil — English Dictionary.

TRANQUEBAR, 13th Aug. 1897. H. B.

[page iv]


This Second Edition is a thoroughly revised one. Several portions, especially in the first part, have been entirely re-written (Compare for instance அல் — அல்ல, ஆ — ஆகு, உ், ஓ etc. with the First Edition and also with Winslow.) As far as suitable synonyms were available,. they have been added to all the different meanings of primitives; but synonyms of a merely descriptive character as ஓர்வித ர், ரப்பொது etc. have been dispenced with. Words of Sanskrit origin are marked with an asterisk (*). In ascertaining the Sanskrit origin of words Rev. A. Jaeger has rendered valuable help; in instances which remained doubtful, Winslow has been mostly followed.

In bringing the volume through the Press, Rev. N. Samuel and Munshi Muthu Thandavaraya Pillay have assisted the under-signed; and on their suggestion, a good number of idiomatic and colloquial expressions have been inserted.

Though a great deal of additional information is embodied in this Second Edition, a corresponding increase in the number of pages has been avoided by more economical print, by removing some repetitions, by using in derivatives, the infinitives, instead of the longer verbal form ending in கிறது and other similar arrangements.

As the First Edition was received by the public very favourably, it is hoped that this Revised Edition will prove even more useful.

TRANQUEBAR, H. Beisenherz,
18th Febr. 1910. Leipzig Ev. Luth. Mission.



THIS new and enlarged edition of the “Tranquebar Dictionary” has been prepared and completed during periodical intervals of ordinary missionary work.

When in charge of the Puducotta High School, I secured the co-operation of an experienced teacher of Tamil and author of educational books, MR. PURUSHOTMA AYER, who has spared no labour in improving the dictionary by addition of new words and idiomatic phrases and lastly in bringing it through the Press.

[page v]

This third edition has been slightly revised as regards english rendering of tamil words. The volume has been largely increased by adding new words and phrases from Winslow’s Dictionary, from the Madras University Lexicon, as far as it was published up to the year 1932 and from recent text-books and other literature.

When the undersigned editor went home on furlough, Rev. P. Gaebler kindly assisted in the reading of proof-sheets, later on followed by Rev. E. Hoard of Segerstad and Rev. H. Roever. It has been a pleasure to me to increase the usefulness of this book and thus to continue the work of my dear colleague, the late Rev. H. Beisenherz.

May this Tranquebar Dictionary also in future serve its purpose of being a good and reliable handbook to students of the Tamil language.

SWEDEN, D. Bexell,
24th Aug. 1933. Bishop of Tranquebar.


Dr. Graul’s

Classification of Tamil Verbs
according to their conjugation


1. Dr. Graul arranges the Tamil Verbs under 3 forms, (the weak, middle and strong) which he again subdivides into 7 classes or conjugations.

2. The 3 forms are distinguished by the characteristics of the future tense, which in the weak form is வ், in the middle one ப் and in the strong one ப்ப், where as the characteristic of the present tense in the weak and in the middle form is the same கிற் or கின்ற் (properly கிறு or கின்று) and differs only in the strong form which has க்கிற் or க்கின்ற்.

3. The subdivision into 7 conjugations—of which 4 belong to the weak form, 2 to the strong one and only 1 to the middle form — is decided by the several characteristics of the past tense.

4. The characteristics of the 3 tenses in the 7 conjugations are as follows:

    A. Weak form  
I கிற் or கின்ற் த் (ட், ற்) வ்
II "           " ந்த "
III "           " இன "
IV "           " doubling the last consonant "
    (த், ட், ற்)  
    B. Middle form  
V "           " த் (ட், ற்) ப்
    C. Strong form  
VI க்கிற், க்கின்ற் த்த் ப்ப்
VII "           " ந்த் "

5. The following paradigms will illustrate this:

[spanning pages vi and vii]

      A. Weak form    
   ┌ செய் do செய்கிறேன் செய்தேன் செய்வேன் செய்ய
I. │     ஆள், ஆளுa rule ஆளுகிறேன் ஆண்டேன்b ஆளுவேன், ஆள்வேன் ஆள
   └     கொல், கொல்லுa kill கொல்லுகிறேன் கொன்றேன்b கொல்லுவேன், கொல்வேன் கொல்ல
II. அறிc know அறிகிறேன் அறிந்தேன் அறிவேன் அறிய
III. ஆக்கு make ஆக்குகிறேன் ஆக்கினேன் ஆக்குவேன் ஆக்க
IV. நகுd laugh நகுகிறேன் நக்கேன் நகுவேன் நக
      B. Middle form    
     ┌    ┌ உண், உண்ணுa eat உண்கிறேன் உண்டேன்f உண்பேன் உண்ண
     │ a          
     │    └ தின் eat தின்கிறேன் தினறேன்f தின்பேன் தின்ன
     │    ┌ கேள், கேளுa hear கேட்கிறேன் கேட்டேன்g கேட்பேன் கேட்க
     │ b          
     └    └ கல் learn கற்கிறேன் கற்றேன்g கற்பேன் கற்க
      C. Strong form    
VI. தீர் finish தீர்க்கிறேன் தீர்க்தேன் தீர்ப்பேன் தீர்க்க
VII. நட walk நடக்கிறேன் நடக்தேன் நடப்பேன் நடக்க

[bottom of page vi]

a. The உ in those verbs is only a euphonic addition, which does not appear in the past.

b. Here the ள் and ல் of the root are changed into ண் and ன் respectively, and the characteristic த் into ட் and ற் respectively. ள்+த்=ண்ட் and ல்+த்=ன்ற்.—A few verbs ending in ண் (ணு) and ன் (னு) which follow the I. conjugation change also த் into ட் and ற் respectively. ண்+த்=ண்‌ட் and ன்+த்=ன்ற், as ஈன், ஈனுகிறது, ஈன்றது, ஈனு். These verbs ending in ண் and ன் are only to be distinguished from those following Va by the characteristic of the future tense.

c. Verbs of the II. conjugation ending in ர் or ழ் may take a euphonical உ except in the past as உணர், உணரு, உணர்கிறேன், உணருகிறேன், உணர்ந்தேன், உணர்வேன், உணருவேன், கிழ், கிழு etc.

d. Only verbs of two letters, mostly short, ending in கு, டு or று (விடு-விட்டேன், பெறு-பெற்றேன்) and their compounds (கூப்பிடு, கைவிடு etc.) follow the IV conjugation.

e. Only monosyllabic verbs ending in ண், ன் (Va), ள் and ல் (Vb) follow this conjugation.

f. Here on account of the preceding ண் and ன், the characteristic த் is changed into ட் and ற் respectively. ண்+த்=ண்ட் and ன்+த்=ன்ற்.

[bottom of page vii]

g. Here on account of the ள் and ல் of the root, the characteristic த் is changed into ட் and ற் respectively, and at the same time the ள் and ல் are hardened into ட் and ற் respectively. ள்+த்=ட்ட் and ல்+த்=ற்ற். The only exception is நில் which has நின்றேன் in the past tense. In Vb the change of ள் and ல் into ட் and ற் respectively takes place also in the present and the future tense, and in the infinitive which in Vb is formed by adding க to the root thus changed, where as in Va the infinitive is correctly formed by adding அ to the root as in the weak form.—Note that the verbs ending in ள் and ல் following terms. Conjugation and those following Va differ not only in the characteristic of the future tense, but also in the formation of all tenses and of the infinitive.

N. B.—The distinction between Va and Vb being dependent only on the last consonant of the root (Va ண் and ன் and Vb ள் and ல்), a and b were dispensed with in the Dictionary.—As the words following the V. conjugation are not many, they may be here:

Va.—உண் (உண்ணு), என், தின், பூண், மாண், காண். (In காண் the past is shortened into கண்டேன்).

Vb.—ஏல் (ஏலு), கல், கேள், தோல், நள், நூல், நோல், பிள், பெள், மீள், வில், வேள், நில், (நில் is conjugated நிற்கிறேன், நின்றேன், நிற்பேன், நிற்க).

[page viii]


The Tamil and English Dictionary known as the Fabricius Dictionary has for a long time been out of print, to the dismay of many who wanted it. In view of the constant demand for this dictionary, evident through many enquiries, not least from Europe and America, it was decided to reprint it. A revision was considered, but it was thought that this would not only call for the expenditure of much time and effort from scholars, but would probably result not only in delay, but in a much more voluminous edition, indeed an entirely new book. As the value of the dictionary lies not least in its comparatively small and handy size, such a procedure would fail to meet the demand.

It was therefore decided to reprint the dictionary as it appeared in the third edition of 1933. But it was also decided to enlist the help of two Tamil scholars at the proof-reading stage, not only to correct errors, but, in some cases to introduce improvements in accordance with present usage and linguistic research. The credit for this goes to Paavalar V. P. K. Sundaram, Professor of Tamil at the Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary, Arasarady, Madurai, and the Reverend S. Lawrence, L.Th. of Perembalur. Both these scholars have taken great care not only to give painstaking attention to the reading of the proofs, but also to make such improvements as were compatible with the general principle of reprinting the dictionary.

The method of clarification and the system of arranging the words have been explained in the prefaces to earlier editions, and no further explanations are needed. It is our conviction that this dictionary still merits its reputation as a handy, remarkably comprehensive treasure of correct Tamil — both literary Tamil and Tamil as spoken in Tamil Nadu today.

Paper of good quality was received from Sweden, and the De Nobili Press, Madurai, has creditably undertaken to print it for the Tranquebar Publishing House, an agency of the Tamil Evangelical Church. It is now commended to the public interested in Tamil.

TIRUCHIRAPALLI-1 Bishop of Tranquebar
January 7, 1972 and
  President, T.E.L.C.

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